Feature Archive

Gambling Wave Sets Stage for Addiction

Glamorization of gambling may create a new generation of addicts.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

For Christmas this year, Austin Fox, age 13, got exactly what he asked Santa for -- a tabletop casino-style poker set. Like growing numbers of children and adults, the Philadelphia youth has been seduced by the lure of poker.

In fact, Austin plays poker about three times a month. His mother, Susan Hewitt, thought long and hard before deciding upon his Christmas gift. "I decided to let him play as long as it is in moderation and supervised by myself or another parent," she says. "They are not playing with exorbitant amounts of money and I see it as more of a social gathering," she tells WebMD. Still, she admits, "the day I taught him what a poker face was, I thought what am I doing?"

Ante Up Anyone?

Buoyed by the popularity of television shows such as Celebrity Poker Showdown, World Poker Tour, and the World Series of Poker, this card game is more popular than ever. World Poker Tour officials estimate that 100 million people in the U.S. at least occasionally play poker and that's up from 50 million about 18 months ago, according to an article in the Washington Times. Other casino games, too, seem to be experiencing a rebirth of sorts. Las Vegas is once again a preferred vacation destination, online gambling is on fire, cell phones have downloadable blackjack and casino-style gifts are flying off of store shelves.